His name was Ethan and he was a supermarket clerk. Renée knew this not because they had been living next door to each other in the same small apartment complex for over two years, but because she bought most of her groceries from the neighborhood Scolari's where he manned the express lane, ten items or less. His uniform consisted of a long red apron and a thin, rectangular name tag, bright green, with Ethan pressed across it in clear white type. Some of the bolder employees donned matching green baseball caps, but he was thankfully not of this minority.
As a neighbor he was passable, soft-spoken and distant, and together they had cultivated a perfectly empty relationship: brief acknowledgments in the mail room, elevator rides bloated with awkward pleasantries, practical conversations about construction on the roof or next week's garbage collection. As a supermarket clerk, he was well trained, but not obnoxious, quietly letting her slip by with eleven cans of soup or a limit-breaking bag of carrots. She had seen him around the grocery store for at least a year before he moved onto her floor, pushing carts in the parking lot and stacking up bags of charcoal, and had learned nothing since that his uniform hadn't already confirmed. They usually met at the cash register, smiling complacently over her club card and a carton of milk, and she always found herself making some superfluous comment about the joint nature of their lives.
That was how it progressed until that fateful autumn day when he tintinnabulated Renée's bell. She opened her door and there he stood, still in uniform. They scanned each other and knew that instant they were an item; the one item over the limit. They drifted to the bedroom without effort. Renée didn't feel her legs proceeding; it was like she was on a conveyor.
They unwrapped each other with unpracticed ease and fell to the mattress. "Be careful with the eggs," she said. "Oh, and what about the juice?"
He paused and sighed. "Paper, or plastic?"
Opening: Regina.....Continuation: Anonymous